Europe: should we be in or out?

It has been another busy week in Westminster, with numerous debates and feedback from the G8 Summit, which made significant progress on issues like tax avoidance by multi-national corporations.

Wednesday, 26th June 2013, 10:07 am
Prime Minister David Cameron makes a speech on Europe, in central London, where he promised an in/out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union by the end of 2017, if the Conservatives win the next general election. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

For me, this week has again been dominated by the Finance Bill Committee on which I sit, where a group of MPs go through the Budget clause by clause, line by line.

The Committee sat for the last time on Thursday, after many votes on different parts of the Budget, and the changes are now one step closer to becoming law.

There is much to welcome including measures to help people back into work and to help people with the cost of living.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, I was in the Commons chamber for the first reading of my Conservative colleague James Wharton’s EU Private Members Bill, which paves the way for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

It has been nearly 40 years since the British people last had their say on Europe.

In that time, so much has changed – the countries involved, the benefits and costs of membership.

Many people across Pendle feel the EU has been heading in a direction they never signed up to.

It is therefore right to negotiate a fresh settlement in the EU that is better for Britain - and then put the result to the British people in an in-out referendum before the end of 2017.

But currently, only one of the main three political parties are supporting it: the Conservatives.

The issue will be debated in Parliament fully on Friday, July 5th, but it will need the support of either Labour or Liberal Democrat MPs to pass.

I hope that between now and then we can build a cross-party consensus on given the British people a say on this very important issue.